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15 March 2002

numbers.gif (2365 bytes)I couldn’t believe the numbers. Just couldn’t believe them.

I checked the piece of paper again. Nope. They were really there. Typed even. No question about misinterpretation due to bad handwriting.

I compared them with the previous set. I still couldn’t believe it.

They were my lab results. After I went to a diabetes class a couple of weeks ago, they ordered new lab tests for me. They ordered blood glucose tests, and I requested cholesterol testing just to see how the new regimen had affected the numbers.

The dietician told me that it generally takes at least 4 months before you show much change in cholesterol levels and I hadn’t been on this new program all that long–and had only been exercising for a month, but to humor me, she agreed to ask for the cholesterol testing.

When the results came back, I was first interested in the glucose testing. The A1C is lower, but still in the marginally diabetic range, which disappointed me a bit–my daily sugar readings have all been so "normal" that I hoped that this 3-month average would also be in the "normal" range, but not yet.

But then I checked the cholesterol numbers. In August, when it was last drawn, my cholesterol had been 215. That’s the highest it’s ever been. It always hovers around "borderline" and medical people cluck their tongues and warn about going over that magic "200" number and caution diet and exercise, but I’d always, of course, ignored them.

Now here I was—actually on that straight and narrow path. Dieting. Exercising. Taking care of my body. What would the numbers show?


That’s right. One hundred and sixty-six. I had dropped 50 points in the past 2 months, thanks to clean living.

The HDL/LDL ratio isn’t ideal, but it’s better, and it will continue to get better as I stick to this program, but boy, if there was ever an incentive to keep doing what I’ve been doing, this lab slip is definitely it.

This morning I received an e-mail with an offer for some magic formula that would lower your cholesterol. I scoffed. I don’t need that. I have GREAT cholesterol.

In fact, my friend the nurse, on getting my e-mail shouting to the hills about the new numbers wrote, "My god, you now have the cholesterol of a marathon runner." Well, I’m not ready to run a marathon yet, and with what I assume is a touch of arthritis in my toes, which sometimes makes walking a little painful, I probably won’t ever get into serious running, but by golly, I can keep those numbers down.

Next goal is to get the blood pressure down. Again, my blood pressure has always hovered around borderline, but when I had it tested in August it was up. I don’t remember the exact numbers at that time, but the provider requested that I have it tested periodically over the next few months.

Naturally, I didn’t do that (mostly because I was embarrassed and thought that my arm wouldn’t fit in those do-it-yourself machines in the stores). But I did ask Dr. G to take my blood pressure before he left on vacation.

"You’re not going to want to hear this," he told me.

It was 150/105. That’s high. My diastolic has been running at 90 as long as I can remember.

He said that normally he’d put me on blood pressure medication right away, but that the level wasn’t so high that it was in the dangerous range yet, and with my new regimen, he wanted to give it a bit and see if I could bring it down with diet and exercise.

He returns from his month, actually (or he’s on a plane as I write this). He will be back seeing patients again on Monday and I will ask him to check to see if, in the intervening month, the blood pressure has dropped at all.

I’ve gone all these years with passing interest in the numbers I see. I know the weight numbers, but have tried not to pay attention them. I never remembered the cholesterol or blood pressure numbers, other than to know they were borderline.

Suddenly the new me (with the weight loss, I suppose I should call the new me "mini me"!) is in competition with the old me and those numbers are really important to me. As I cheer each week with the increasingly decreasing numbers on the scale, so will I begin to pay attention to all the other numbers: the cholesterol, the HDL/LDL ratio, the blood glucose, the blood pressure. (As well as the number of minutes on the exercise machines, the level of work expended, the number of points of my food during the day...)

For someone who professes that she is not very good at numbers, suddenly they seem to have become the center of my life!


Quote of the Day

I regret to say that we of the FBI are powerless to prevent intimate oral-genital contact, unless it in some way obstructs interstate commerce.

-- J. Edgar Hoover

One Year Ago

Apprentice Hermit

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